Sun Devils Squeak By Beavers In Defensive Struggle

Oct 13, 2002

by Travis Breedlove, ASU Sports Information

The Sun Devils (5-2, 2-0), were looking to bounce back from their loss last week against North Carolina, playing host to the Oregon State Beavers (4-3, 0-3) at Sun Devil Stadium. The Beavers, losers in their last two games, had not won in Tempe since 1969 and were hoping to break both streaks against the young Arizona State team. In a defensive struggle throughout the night, the Sun Devils were able to come out on top with a fourth quarter stand to close out the game and get a 13-9 victory. Head Coach Dirk Koetter applauded his defense on the job they did. 'What a great, great job by our defense. We talked last week about finishing better on defense and, boy, did those guys finish tonight. I thought our defensive staff had a great game plan. The players really executed it. Oregon State did a lot to double Terrell (Suggs) and I thought our other guys really rallied. Our guys played so hard and I just couldn't be happier for the defensive effort.'

Oregon State would defer the opening kickoff to start out the game electing to receive in the second half. Hakim Hill would take the ball at the ASU three-yard line and return it 12 yards putting the Devils offense at their 15-yard line to start the game. However, the Sun Devils would only get eight yards on their first possession, thanks to sophomore quarterback Andrew Walter's scamper on first down. The Devils would be forced to punt it away to end their first possession of the game.

In Oregon State's first series of the game, starting at their own 29-yard line, the Beavers would move the ball 16 yards, thanks to a seven-yard carry by Steven Jackson and a nine-yard catch by Kenny Farley, only to give the ball back to ASU on a Josh Amobi interception off of Beaver quarterback Derek Anderson.

The Sun Devils would then begin their march back down the field with a Walter to Daryl Lightfoot 11-yard completion for an ASU first down. However, just three plays later the Beaver defense would intercept Andrew Walter's pass giving OSU the ball back at their own 33-yard line.

Arizona State's defense would not let down though, holding OSU running back Dwight Wright for no gain and then intercepting Derek Anderson again, this time by R.J. Oliver. The Sun Devil defense would force a total of four turnovers, three interceptions and one fumble, in the game.

The ASU offense would capitalize on the turnover this time when senior kicker Mike Barth would hit a career-long 50-yard field goal to put ASU on the board first and give them a 3-0 lead.

The defense for the Sun Devils would continue to stop the Beaver's offense forcing them to lose 12 yards on their next possession, including a Mason Unck sack of Derek Anderson for eight-yards. 'It was kind of a crazy game. Our defense played well tonight and that is what kept us in the game,' responded R.J. Oliver.

The Sun Devils finally were able to move the ball starting at their own 49-yard line, thanks to a key third and nine pass interference call against Oregon State keeping ASU's drive alive, followed by an OSU face mask penalty for another ASU first down. The offensive push would stop there and Mike Barth would come out to attempt a 28-yard field goal with just over three minutes left in the first quarter. The Barth attempt would sail wide left giving the ball back to the Beavers and keeping the score 3-0 in favor of the Devils.

Oregon State would be stopped again by the Maroon and Gold defense, which held the Beavers to minus nine net yards rushing in the first quarter and only nine net yards rushing for the game. The return of the Beaver defense to the field would last only one play, however, as Andrew Walter would throw his second interception of the game to OSU defender Calvin Carlyle.

The Sun Devil defense would not let the turnovers affect their play as they stopped the Beavers again allowing only one yard. ASU would get the ball back to end the first quarter with a 3-0 lead.

After receiving the punt from ASU, Oregon State would begin their first possession of the second quarter at their own 38-yard line. Beaver quarterback Derek Anderson was able to complete consecutive second and long plays to OSU wide receivers to keep the drive alive allowing for kicker Kirk Yliniemi to kick a 37-yard field goal and tie the score at 3-3.

With the teams trading punts and then ASU again punting the ball to Oregon State the Beavers had less than five minutes to try and score again before half time. Starting at their own nine-yard line OSU would drive 71-yards to the ASU 20-yard line, thanks to a Anderson to James Newson 48-yard reception, setting up another Yliniemi 37-yard field goal to put the Beavers on top 6-3.

ASU would get one more shot before the half, but would fail to get farther than their own 37-yard line, leaving the score 6-3 in favor of the visiting Beavers heading into the locker room.

Oregon State would start the second half with the ball at their own 20-yard line, thanks in part to a Tim Parker 74-yard kickoff. After completing his first pass for 10-yards Beaver quarter back Anderson was sacked by Jimmy Verdon for a loss of eight-yards. The Beavers would not go down though, on third and 18 Anderson would hit receiver James Newson for 25 yards and ASU would be hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for 15 more yards giving the Beavers the ball at the ASU 38-yard line. Steven Jackson would get 15-yards on a rush before Terrell Suggs would notch his NCAA and Pac-10 leading 13th sack of the season putting a stop to the OSU drive. The Beavers would have to settle for another Yliniemi 47-yard field goal to go up 9-3 on the Devils.

The Sun Devil offense was out to prove that their first half struggles were behind them when they came out for their first possession of the second half. Andrew Walter would find Shaun McDonald for a 13-yard strike to move the ball to the Sun Devil 32-yard line. On the next possession Cornell Canidate would rush for a loss of one yard, but OSU would commit a personal foul giving the Devils 15-yards and another first down. Finally, on a third and two from the Beaver 46-yard line, Walter would find Hakim Hill who would scamper 46-yards into the end zone for a Sun Devils score. The five play 81-yard drive would be the longest drive for the Devils the entire night. Mike Barth would connect on his 29th consecutive extra point for the season to give the Sun Devils a 10-9 lead.

ASU would get the ball back after the Beavers would fail to move the ball and were forced to punt in their next possession. Starting with great field position at their own 33-yard line the Sun Devils would work with a short field to try and add to their lead. The offense would get a few breaks on their drive converting a third down with eight yards to go into a first down followed by a 15-yard pass interference penalty to give them another first down. Then, Andrew Walter would complete a 34-yard pass to tight end Mike Pinkard to put ASU on the 5-yard line. The Devils luck would run out thought as Hakim Hill would fumble on the one-yard line out of the back of the end zone giving the ball back to Oregon State at the 20-yard line.

The turning point in the game came on the next play as the ASU defense came back in to get another turnover against OSU. After a 12-yard Jackson carry, Anderson would complete a pass to Dan Haines only to see a forced fumble caused by Jason Shivers and recovered by Josh Amobi at the Oregon State 37-yard line.

The Sun Devils would have to settle for a Barth 46-yard field goal to put themselves up 13-9. Dirk Koetter commented on the play of the kicking game against Oregon State. 'We did well in the kicking game tonight. Mike Barth with a 50-yarder and a 46-yarder, and how about Tim Parker with five punts averaging 48.8 yards on his punts. There are a lot of heroes behind the scenes that don't get noticed.' The game would not be over as ASU would have to hold onto their lead and the defense would have to make some critical stops to preserve a win for the Maroon and Gold.

With OSU quarterback Derek Anderson driving the Beavers down the field the Sun Devil defense would step up and make some plays. Oregon State, facing a second and two, called their first timeout with 1:17 left in the game at the ASU 16-yard line. After failing to complete a pass the Beavers let running back Steven Jackson carry the ball on third down as he gained seven-yards and an OSU first down. Oregon State had to then call their second time out only to see senior safety Alfred Williams blindside sack Anderson for a six-yard loss and force the Beavers to call their last time out with 0:55 remaining in the game. 'We worked on getting to the quarterback all week long in practice. On the field tonight, we just executed out game plan,' commented Alfred Williams on the defense's play.

Following an incomplete pass Oregon State had only one more shot at winning the game. Facing a fierce Sun Devil pass rush Anderson scrambled around the backfield to get sacked by linebacker Josh Amobi for a 19-yard loss. 'Well we basically gave up two big sacks, we had max protection and ASU sent the safety and Derek (Anderson) didn't even see him,' commented Oregon State head coach Dennis Erickson. Oregon State would try to run one more play before time expired, but failed to snap the ball in time thus giving the Sun Devils a hard fought 13-9 victory.

'This was a big game for us tonight. We competed to the end and that is what I like about this team. We played hard all four quarters,' responded cornerback R.J. Oliver.

GAME NOTES: The nine points allowed by ASU is the least since a 28-7 win at Washington in 1999 for a Pac-10 game...The last time ASU did not allow an offensive touchdown in a Pac-10 game was in a 24-3 win over Oregon State in 1998...The win gave ASU its first back-to-back Pac-10 wins since 1999 when ASU downed both Washington and Washington State in Tempe in October...Terrell Suggs, the NCAA and Pac-10 leader in sacks, added to his total vs. the Beavers with one of ASU's total seven sacks. The junior defensive end now has 13 sacks and 16.5 TFL this year. He is tied for third in ASU's single-season record book with the 13 sacks and remains in second in the career books with 33. With his two TFL vs. Oregon State he now has 51 in his career, ranking sixth, just two behind fifth place...ASU improved to 21-7-1 all-time vs. OSU, including seven straight wins at home and 10 of the last 11 overall...Senior kicker Mike Barth connected on a career-long 50-yard field goal, ending his 0-for-7 streak of attempts over 50 yards. It was the longest field goal for a Sun Devil since John Baker connected on a 51-yarder vs. Stanford in 1999 (10/23/93)...Junior cornerback Brett Hudson recorded his first career INT in the fourth quarter...Dirk Koetter is now 15-6 (.714) following a loss.

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